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FPS on Wii: Breaking the Boundaries

Not only does your maneuverability take a significant hit from these large bounding boxes, but there are some purely aesthetic side effects that are less than favorable. The most jarring is the "wonky arm" syndrome, where aiming to the far areas of the bounding box will result in an arm that looks oddly elongated, or a wrist that's bent unnaturally. This is most noticeable in Red Steel, when your character holds a pistol.

The disorientation is largely unavoidable, as the notion of a shooting system where the cursor is independent of the character's head and body at all times has been heretofore unheard of in the genre. That said, the severity of the wonkiness has the large width of the bounding box to blame. By allowing you to aim to the severe right or left without moving your body, the arm can find itself in a situation where your character ends up angling their wrist in order to gain additional horizontal distance. While it's odd to see the arm moving about, having an angled wrist while firing a gun is just unnatural.

There is surely merit to the idea of a bounding box. It emulates the idea of aiming at multiple targets in front of you with just your arm, not your entire body, which is much closer to how such a situation would unfold in reality. That said, I'm of the opinion that there are much more functional ways to implement FPS systems on the Wii.

The most obvious solution to the large bounding box issue is almost too simple to even mention -- just use a smaller box. You'd be able to turn much more responsively, the arm wonkiness would be vastly toned down, and you'd still maintain some of the aiming freedom a bounding box allows in the middle of the screen.

A smaller bounding box makes for quicker turning

I've heard word of Red Steel actually offering something like this as an option, but I'm not sure if I'm imagining that or not. Metroid Prime 3 has several aiming options, but as far as I know they don't actually change the size of the box; they just make the screen rotate faster once you aim outside of the box. Regardless of whether the games implement varying bounding box sizes in their current incarnations, it seems almost stupid for it to not be one of the control options.

I might even go as far as to recommend a control option where there's NO bounding box whatsoever, and the gun's cursor is fixed to the center of the screen. In that fashion, it would function identically to the dual-analog setup present on the current generation of consoles. You'd strafe and walk with the analog stick, and the remote would register as relative movement when you angle it.

There was a recent interview over at CVG with Red Steel's lead game designer that addressed the notion of a cursor locked to the center of the screen.

Roman Campos-OriolaIn the beginning the idea was to keep the cursor locked to the middle of the screen. I don't think that is it better to have the pointer locked to the centre of the screen on Wii because, firstly, when you play FPS games with a mouse, when you reach the edge of the mouse mat, you lift the mouse and reposition it in the centre. With the Wii controller, you can't do that.

They go on to describe a system emulating the "lifting" of the mouse by holding a trigger on the controller that they eventually abandoned due to not working out very well. I will gladly agree with them on one point: emulating mouse-lifting isn't an intelligent idea. That said, it hardly implies that a fixed cursor is faulty in of itself. After all, console FPS games have used fixed cursors for years, and there's no reason you can't simply emulate an aiming analog stick with the Remote.

What I'd like to do, though, is propose a control scheme that's kind of a "best of both worlds" solution. Using a bounding box of an unorthodox proportion could mimic the needs of a gunslinger much more realistically than a horizontally-weighted rectangle, and utilizing the Nunchuck's motion-sensing abilities could enhance assessment your surroundings.

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